What Is Marketing Automation and Why Is It Important?

Almost everything can be done automatically these days. More and more industries are using useful tools to speed up, save and improve work. The role of the marketer has also changed rapidly in recent years. Instead of a manual planner and communication officer, the marketer is increasingly becoming a strategic and technical expert. A large part of the marketing work is now fully automated.

In this blog we discuss the concept of marketing automation. We explain what it means, why it is important and give a few examples of common automated campaigns.

What Exactly Is Marketing Automation?

In short, marketing automation means:

Using software to carry out marketing campaigns.

This can be, for example, automatically:

  • sending e-mail sequences
  • posting social media posts
  • deploying ad campaigns
  • segmenting contacts
  • ‘grading’ leads in order to give your attention to the leads with the most potential

With the right tools, you can build an entire pre-planned series of actions (a sequence), which depend on each other to lead your leads towards a purchase.

For example:

Let’s say you sell shoes for men and women. You want to offer a discount code to create extra awareness for your brand. In an automated marketing campaign, you will now:

  • Automatically collect email addresses (leads) from your potential customers
  • Segment (split) your list of leads into women’s and men’s lists
  • Automatically send an email to the ladies with an offer for a discount on women’s shoes, and the same to the men – but with men’s shoes
  • Automatically send a reminder email after a week to only the people who haven’t made a purchase yet after receiving the first email
  • Automatically send a thank you email to only the people who have made a purchase, with an extra discount for a possible follow-up purchase
  • Create ad campaigns (on, for example, Google or social media) based on these lists, in which only the people who clicked on a previous email see an online offer (here too, of course, only women’s shoes for women and men’s shoes for men)

This is just one of the many examples that show the possibilities of marketing automation software. The possibilities for automation are enormous and can be completely adapted to your target group, product and campaign.

Why Is Marketing Automation Important?

That’s a very simple question to answer. By strategically using the right tools you save time, money and your work is simply better.

With marketing automation you also ensure:

  1. More personality in your communication, by means of the aforementioned segmentation. For example, without having to spend hours puzzling with lists and names, you can automatically refer to a name in your emails, you can refer to previous communications and add a personal offer.
  2. That your processes and working methods remain structured. Because an automated sequence requires the necessary planning, a company is forced to consider the reason behind its work, the sequence of its steps and the focus of its marketing plan.
  3. That you have an endless amount of data available with which you can continuously optimize. Each tool stores data, from which you can learn a lot about your target audience. Every time your sequence is activated, you have the opportunity to improve your working method (often even automatically).

And finally, another reason that may be less fun but very important: your competitor uses marketing automation as well. The use of marketing automation has become so common that you will unfortunately fall behind if you do not use it.

Four Examples of Automated Campaigns

Marketing automation comes in endless shapes and sizes. Every company and every marketer has the opportunity to automate a chosen part of the marketing process by using the right tools. However, the following four forms of marketing automation are currently very popular:

Email Sequences

By far the most well-known form of marketing automation is the email sequence (or drip campaign). As described earlier, this is a pre-set series of emails that are automatically sent to certain groups, based on specific characteristics and at the right time. A welcome email followed by an offer and a reminder, for example. Does a lead accept an offer? This lead will then end up in a new sequence and a thank you email or a follow-up offer will automatically follow.

Multi-channel Sequences

Automation is not limited to emails. In addition to an e-mail sequence, you can also choose to set up a sequence in which (for example) e-mail, SMS, chat and social media ads are combined.

A/B Split Testing

Analyses and tests are also often automated these days. Smart tools help to automatically compare actions to take the best follow-up actions based on the results. For example, you can send two different emails to the same target group as part of your automatic sequence. After a short test, the mail with the best result is used for the continuation of a campaign.

The same principle is often applied to, for example, landing pages, offers, graphic design, UX design and more.

Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing campaigns automatically take actions based on the behavior of a (potential) customer. For example, does a website visitor leave the shopping cart without checking out? Then this person will see a social ad or email, as a reminder of your product or service.

Remarketing strategies often use email sequences and are often multichannel.

Marketing Automation Software

Now you may be wondering what software you need to set up these campaigns. The answer to that is a tricky one. It really depends on what exactly you want to automate. However, we would like to show you some marketing automation tools that are commonly used for setting up automated marketing sequences:

  • Insightly: A strong CRM system for managing data, segmenting leads and tracking automated marketing actions.
  • Hubspot: A CRM system and inbound marketing tool that collects leads, sets up sequences and sends emails. So, an all-in-one package.
  • Marketo: One of the most well-known platforms for automated email drip campaigns.
  • Drip: Email (drip) sequences especially for e-commerce companies.
  • Leadfeeder: A tool that automatically (using Google Analytics data) converts your website visitors into leads.
  • Optimizely: Optimizely helps to run A/B tests automatically.
  • Zapier: Zapier is the tool for tools. With handy links, Zapier ensures that various tools work together flawlessly.

Understand this: software is not everything.

In an article by Hubspot, marketing automation is described as ‘a combination between tooling and strategy’. And that’s exactly what it is.

Automation offers enormous opportunities, but requires involvement from both the employees and the management of a company. For example, do you use a CRM system and only half of the users handle it correctly? Then the effectiveness of the tool has almost completely disappeared. Calculations are no longer reliable, data disappear or are stored twice and processes turn into chaos.

We therefore advise all companies not to start blindly with marketing tools, but to first draw up a thorough strategy and planning. This requires attention for, among other things, a training plan, a strategy for monitoring and adjustment and a plan for ongoing support.

Need help?

Do you think you are falling behind in the field of marketing automation and do you want to know how your company can make better use of it? Do you need help drafting a strategy or implementing a system? We’re happy to help you work this out! Feel free to contact us and we will get started together.


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